When they saw students acting out, these educators brought ties to school. Here’s why.
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Clorox

When teacher Kenneth Joyner and student support specialist Raymond Nelson III started working together they noticed something that worried them.

All photos courtesy of Boys With a Purpose.

What they were seeing in the classroom at Memminger Elementary in South Carolina were kids "cutting the cord" between themselves and their teachers. They weren't paying attention. They weren't listening. Overall, there was simply a lack of respect and discipline amongst their young male students.


In many cases, these kinds of discipline problems would be handled with detentions and suspensions. But Joyner and Nelson didn't think that yelling or exclusion would solve any of these problems long-term.

"When you go to my classroom, it says, 'Connect, Inspire, Teach.' That's my philosophy. That's what I live by," says Joyner.

These educators, who have had positive experiences with mentoring in the past, knew they could give the boys in their school a chance to become active participants in their education. So before the 2015 holidays, they decided they'd team up and get to work.

On January 6th, 2016, Nelson and Joyner brought ties to school and offered them to any boy who might want one. It seems like a small gesture, but it made an impact.

The ties Nelson and Joyner brought in actually belonged to them. They were, the men recall, too big and too long for third, fourth and fifth graders. But that didn't matter. The two men were helping kids put them on and teaching them the beginnings of a perfect knot.

And the boys didn't care that the ties didn't fit or that colors clashed. They didn't care that putting a tie over their regular clothes might look silly. All they cared about was that the ties helped them feel confident, more professional and more grown-up. The ties gave them an opportunity to see themselves differently than they had been before.

"A lot of the boys in the school were maybe labeled as trouble makers, maybe labeled as not good kids, maybe labeled as not academically on par," says Joyner.

"People have to see themselves differently if they're going to change. When they begin to see themselves differently, that's when they begin to act differently."

Nelson and Joyner note that many kids get in trouble because of the perceptions and conditions of worth that have been placed upon them. If a kid gets a reputation for being a fighter, then that kid may have a harder time proving he's more than that. Or say a kid works hard academically, but doesn't feel intelligent because only kids who got 100% on their math tests are called "smart." As a result, he may not make an effort to improve.

With the ties, Nelson and Joyner wanted to send the kids an important message: You don't have to fit into the narrow confines of the roles you may have been pushed into. You can clean up your act, soften your defenses, be both tough and vulnerable. If just putting on a tie made a decided difference, what happens if you adjust your whole image?

Proud of this new confidence the boys were emanating, Nelson and Joyner posted pictures to Facebook. The response made it possible for their small act to become "Boys With a Purpose," a full-fledged leadership program.

Within days of the photos going up on social media, Nelson, Joyner and the boys went viral. Soon, big names started calling. Eventually, Steve Harvey flew five of the boys out to be on his show.

Many of them had never been on a plane, and they certainly hadn't been on a TV show. It was another opportunity to see themselves differently; an opportunity to see the future they could have.

When Nelson, Joyner and the boys returned to school, they were bombarded with donations. People sent ties, then shirts and pants to go with the ties. Nelson and Joyner even received full suits for the boys. This outpouring of generosity allowed the teachers to give clothing to any boy who needed or wanted it.

Eventually they started an after-school program. Nelson and Joyner meet with the boys three afternoons a week, and on Thursdays, everyone dresses up.

While there was initially a misconception about the program — that it was only for kids who didn't have fathers or positive male role models in their life — Joyner notes that's not the case.

"Any young man who doesn't have a positive male role model in his life, this program is for him," says Joyner. "Any young man who does have a positive male role model in his life, this program is for him, because he needs to continue to grow, to learn, to instill those values in himself."

Today, Boys With a Purpose is giving more and more kids a chance at a limitless future.

The College of Charleston offered the group a place to meet on their campus, giving the boys yet another opportunity to see themselves differently: as future college students.

Nelson and Joyner also regularly bring in lawyers, doctors and community leaders to inspire the boys. They've even started working with robotics and they're learning how to code.

"What I wanted to make sure that they understood is that everybody is not going to the NBA, NFL, and major league baseball," says Joyner. "I'm happy if you do, but it may not happen, so in the meantime, I need you to work your academics. I need you to use every bit of your brain power that you can to focus. Not just to play video games, but to learn how to make video games."

Of course, the program still focuses on the basics — the boys learn about confidence, self-respect and respect for others. They learn social skills. They learn the importance of living life with integrity. As a result, many of the boys have improved their grades, improved the quality of their social connections and become leaders. Many of them are now role models for their siblings and other students.

These are the things, Nelson and Joyner say, that may take the boys even further than a degree — although, of course, they're hoping that they get one of those, too.

First, though, they hope that Boys With a Purpose's mission catches on across the country, becoming a powerful, positive inspiration for many more sparkling bright futures.

"We're just hoping that we can get people to see the importance," says Joyner. "Because [if] you start off with the boys at an early age, you can plant the seed early."

"That's what we're working on. Trying to plant the seed early, so when they get older, they can already have the tools necessary to be successful."

Clorox is committed to providing a gentle yet powerful clean, which is why they've partnered with Upworthy to promote those same traits in people, actions and ideas. Cleaning up and strength are important aspects of many of our social good stories. Check out the rest in the campaign to read more.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

The battle between millennials and older generations isn't exactly a generational war—it's more a case of mistaken generational identity. A decade ago, whining about millennials being young adults unprepared to make their way in the world at least made sense mathematically. But when people bag on millennials now they end up looking rather foolish.

A marketing researcher with a doctorate in social psychology wrote an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune titled "Post-pandemic, some millennials finally decide to start #adulting." And when the Tribune shared it to Twitter, their since-deleted tweet read, "Writer Jennifer Rosner predicts COVID-10 lockdowns will force easy-breezy millennials to grow up."

Hoo boy.

Interestingly, the writer of the op-ed is a millennial herself, but she repeats generalizations about her entire generation that seem like they mainly apply to her own social circle. Read it yourself to decide, but regardless, the tweet of the op-ed itself set off a firestorm of responses from millennials who are tired of being painted as irresponsible young people who don't know how to "adult" instead of what they actually are.

Keep Reading Show less
True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.